The Vice-President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen, was joined by the Portuguese Minister for the Environment and Energy Transition, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, and Lisbon City Mayor, Fernando Medina, in a Citizens’ Dialogue to talk about the Circular Economy and the increasing need to promote sustainable economic practices in every step of the production chain, and engaging companies, citizens, national and local governments around the common goal of ensuring better environmental practices.
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen revealed that “Europe is leading the circular economy at the moment, China is second best and the USA is far behind”, a victory for the EU’s ability to transform behaviours at a continental level.
And more is in store for the future: “By 2030, every single piece of plastic placed in our market must be reusable or recyclable. The best thing about this is that the rest of the world will follow us. When Europeans set standards, the others will follow.”
He also talked about the positive effects that plastic reduction has on oil imports in Europe: the less plastic used, the less oil the EU needs to produce plastic.
In addition, the Vice-President mentioned the successful legislation the Commission has introduced to ban ‘single use plastic’ and shared with the audience that this legislative proposal was hardly met with any opposition from the industrial lobbies. In fact, the industry has been very helpful and accommodative to address this source of pollution.
The Vice-President suggested that one way that the national state and local governments could play a decisive role to facilitate the environment and the circular economy are when tenders are launched. “Public procurement is a very powerful tool to influence our future”.
In response to a question from the audience, Minister Matos Fernandes explained that he believes disposable products, regardless of material, should be pushed out of world economy and we should aim to produce products that last longer, are easier to fix and don’t create a huge strain on the entire economy to recycle: “We can’t put products out on our economy if we don’t know where we will put them after they are used”.